Statistics of rates of unemployment or even a high number of unemployed youths have overshadowed the focus on the human face of the issue in Bangladesh context over the years. Be they 5.0 per cent or 30 per cent of the population and 20 million or 40 million in absolute number, the community of jobless people is only one figure devoid of human stories.
We can't listen to struggles of jobseekers staying in all Sardar Colonies like that of Motijheel's in Dhaka, school-educated youths of mufassil (peri-urban) areas and unskilled labourers in sprawling villages.
We don't, however, have the accurate number of the other side -how many jobs will be added to the current size of the market by 2022, let alone registration of jobless claims seeking unemployment benefits and access to employment guarantee scheme.
What will all the students who pass out and drop out during and after the Covid-19, do in the coming years when they are free from the one-in-a-century pandemic?
It has left millions unemployed -there are various figures but the fact remains:the problem has been acute this time around and a whole generation has started suffering more.
Some 1.7 million Bangladesh youths are likely to lose jobs this year, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). An ILO-ADB report also said the youth unemployment in the country might double due to pandemic effects. Some other estimates might have shown lower rates of job loss but the common point is: the job market has shrunk.
The entities that accessed the government's stimulus package account for only 8.0 per cent of the employment, revealed a study by the Centre for Policy Dialogue and Oxfam. It further observed that whether the assistance money would be utilised in creating new jobs or retaining old ones has not been clearly defined in the guidelines.
Perhaps, we've not been able to give enough attention to the issue of job creation in our development pursuits. A well developed system must offer opportunities to the underprivileged.
In discussions on jobs often do the policymakers and opinion leaders express their concern more about possible social unrest as a consequence of unemployment than about moral compulsion of the authorities concerned to generate employment. As if job offer is a matter of charity or altruism, even when industries need workforce that can serve best!
Also, our thinking is limited to government jobs, apparel sector, and remittance earning via blue-collar jobs. Conventionally, our job culture, too, has been characterised by deficiency of professionalism and adopting only limited skills.We have rather inherited a social stigma about some jobs such as agriculture, weaving, crushing oil seeds and running small shops ---mindset that indicates an anti-entrepreneurial attitude.
Now that outsourcing has emerged as a major source of earning, hardly anyone has noticed when and how it happened. That a large number of educated youths have joined modern farming as occupation has not been appreciated much.
A job that doesn't help young individuals to grow in terms of garnering their merit and potential and serving people is still more lucrative to millions of families, not to mention incentives of corrupt money for some.
We've failed to recognize that every job demands new skill sets to meet the demands of the time and generation of people. That's why, the best professionals, too, have to undergo training programmes in developed economies from time to time.
The reason why we could not dedicate resources and adopt policy measures during the pandemic to create jobs is our poor vision on future jobs. Before emphasising innovation in industries, policymakers need to apply some sort of creativity to fix the target of employment generation.